For a country that’s given me so many good friends and fond memories these past few years, Rwanda has offered one last parting gift before next week’s flight to South Africa: conjunctivitis.
Kigali has been abuzz with rumors surrounding my pink eye. Rogue RPF elements? Nkunda sympathizers? Former Interahamwe, hatching some dastardly plot against the eyes of journalists? The foreign press corps? The French? Ingabire?
Whatever the cause – most likely my holding hands with some shit-fingered Congolese kid last week – I’ve spent the past few days squinting mole-eyed into the sunlight. It has not been a pleasant valedictory week – though, in fairness to pink eyes past, it could have been worse. There was Zanzibar ’08, the unforgettable Beirut ’07 (right), and a handful of episodes from my grubby, eye-rubbing youth. This is, by comparison, small potatoes – nothing a few drops of Fluorometholone can’t clear up in the next 5-7 days.
It is heartening, in a way, to get this farewell fuck-off. Lest I begin to wax nostalgic on those first, lonely nights in Jo’burg, I can think instead: “Rwanda? You mean the place where I got the pink eye? No, THANKS!” And then I’ll go back to playing solitaire.